Many people in the United States face a tough choice when they get sick on a workday. For people in hourly positions, this can be especially painful since many hourly positions don’t offer paid sick or emergency leave.
You may have heard the United States is the no-vacation nation, but the lack of paid sick days is a major issue, especially in health and hospitality industries. As a nurse, working while sick can potentially compromise patient health even further. So why do nurses feel they must choose between taking care of themselves or their bank accounts? Some paid sick leave laws are changing, positively impacting travel nurses.
Even if they don’t affect nurses directly, paid sick days can make a huge difference in a community’s health. According to a 2016 study, areas that required paid sick leave decreased the rate of the general flu by 5.5%. Allowing paid sick leave may help reduce turnover — and the associated costs — by workers leaving to seek positions with better benefits or by workers being fired after a serious illness.
Paid and unpaid days aside, a survey found 83% of health care workers came to work sick at least once in the past year, even though 95% believed working while sick risked patient health. The main reason? They didn’t want to let their teams down or leave their units understaffed.
While admirable, we need to reassess how we view sick days in health care. Supporting sick leave within your own workplace and in your state can do just that.
Nine states mandate paid sick leave that, upon meeting the requirements, applies to travel nurses. These states include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. However, state-specific requirements and employee eligibility vary.
In addition, while some states may not have statewide policies, certain cities within those states could have their own sick leave mandates. For a more detailed list, click here.